Landmark agreement with Israel takes UK global science mission to new heights

20th September 2023
Sheryl Miles

Israel will become the latest country to sign a landmark agreement with the UK, to collaborate on science and innovation, when the two countries’ Science Ministers meet in London on the 20th September.

As part of the deal, both countries will commit a total of £1.7 million in support to joint research focused on technologies critical to our future prosperity and quality of life, like quantum.

The agreement comes just weeks after the new UK-EU agreement the Prime Minister secured earlier this month on the UK’s association to Horizon, the largest programme of research cooperation – which Israel is also an associate member of. The deal will enable quicker, deeper collaboration on areas of science and innovation, like AI, health, and the environment, which are critically important to the jobs and economy of the coming decades.

This agreement is the latest in a series of bilateral international science deals the UK has signed recently, which include partnerships with India, Japan, Switzerland, and South Africa. The UK is also putting serious financial backing behind international science collaboration with a new global research warchest, the International Science Partnerships Fund, which launched last year with an initial £119 million to deliver world class science and research with partners around the globe.

These bilateral agreements, alongside Horizon association, demonstrate the UK’s global ambitions to deepen collaboration with leading lights in science right across the globe. The Government is determined to open up the broadest range of opportunities, for the brightest British minds to unlock breakthroughs with colleagues, the world over.

The Memorandum of Understanding between the UK and Israel will be signed in the heart of historic Whitehall. Elevating the already-strong bonds between the UK and Israel’s research and technology communities – with some of the £1.7 million announced also supporting UK researchers to build their links with partners in Israel – will support high-skilled jobs and drive economic growth, one of the Prime Minister’s five priorities.

George Freeman MP, Minister of State at the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology said: “Israel is known as the Startup Nation for good reason: from its world-leading approach to R&D, to its flourishing biotech, cyber, space, and agritech sectors, it is truly one of the world’s most innovative economies.

“That’s why I prioritised Israel alongside Japan and Switzerland as one of our first priority R&D collaborations, in our network of global collaborations, to better attract investment and support the global impact of UK innovation as part of our science superpower mission.

“This collaboration is structured in the standard 3 pillars – research, commercialisation, and bilateral government priorities – and will take our deep and longstanding science and technology partnership to new heights, to the benefit of scientists, researchers, investors, and companies in both nations.”

Minister Ofir Akunis of Israel’s Ministry of Innovation, Science and Technology said: “I'm delighted and proud to sign today the Bilateral Memorandum of Understanding between the Israeli Ministry of Innovation, Science and Technology (MOST) and the UK Department for Science Innovation and Technology (DSIT).

“I believe this signing will contribute significantly to the scientific and technological cooperation and networking between scientists and entrepreneurs across many sectors in both our countries.

“Over the years, our two countries have developed excellent, cutting-edge technology in many fields. This collaboration will not only benefit our scientific communities but will also benefit the broader economy, and security of our nations.”

By boosting the UK and Israel’s science and research links, the deal builds on the objectives of the UK Science and Technology Framework, which sets out how the Government will consistently champion and strengthen the UK’s science and technology sectors overseas through work with international governments, academics, industries, and more. The bonds between both countries’ innovators are being further bolstered by the UK’s association to Horizon Europe, of which Israel is also a non-EU associate member.

The funding being announced today includes £1.1 million which will go towards Universities UK International’s UK-Israel Innovation Mobility Scheme, supporting UK-based researchers to travel to Israel and work jointly with Israeli partners, at top Israeli institutions.

More than £600,000 will support the UK-Israel Quantum Collaboration being led by the UK Atomic Energy Authority, to develop disruptive new quantum technologies that could eventually be rolled out commercially, to underpin the workings of quantum computers.

All of this forms part of the £20 million commitment for science, research, and innovation collaboration in the UK-Israel Bilateral Roadmap, which was signed by both countries’ Foreign Ministers in March.

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